Sustainable Restaurant Association
In 2010, three dozen restaurant pioneers answered the call of Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of Leon and Mark Sainsbury, of Moro, The Zetter and Grain Store fame, and joined the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). They saw the future but wanted help framing all the good things they were doing and believed in and were more than happy to put their credentials to the test. They realised that restaurants were late to respond to the sustainability agenda and that the time was right for positive change.
The SRA provided these innovators with two main things: a consultancy service and an independent accreditation, which within 12 months had been dubbed the Michelin Stars of Sustainability.
This continues to be the offering and is based around three pillars of sustainability. While the provenance of the food on the plate is hugely important, there’s a great deal more that goes into making a meal good, in every sense. So the SRA’s rating also addresses restaurants’ efforts to minimise their environmental footprint and maximise their social impact. Hence the three pillars are Sourcing, Environment and Society.
Now, five years on and restaurants and cafés as diverse as Ceviche and Fera at Claridges, Costa and Pizza Express, sit side by side among the ranks of the growing group that are putting those values, so eloquently espoused by Raymond, at the heart of their menu. 5,500 sites, pretty much from Land’s End to John O’Groats and indeed beyond, are at the heart of the movement.
Internationally, restaurants like Noma, Narisawa, Azurmendi and Relæ have tested themselves as they’ve vied for the coveted Sustainable Restaurant Award at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants over the past three years. Eurostar, Virgin Atlantic, Belmond and Virgin Limited Edition are among other participating global brands. As well as reaching out around the world, the SRA has also broadened its reach in terms of the type of businesses with which it’s engaging. Contract caterers, universities, schools and colleges are just some of the other foodservice businesses now submitting their sustainability credentials to the test and benefitting from the SRA’s expert advice and support on a range of issues as diverse as food waste, Fairtrade and fair pay.
The SRA created a unique framework to simplify the complexity of sustainability for the industry. We use this framework to assess foodservice business and it is based around the three pillars of sustainability.